Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – August 2009

Volume 9 Number 8


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Parenting

7. Discipline without Stress

8. Testimonials and Research



Grant me the serenity

to accept the people I cannot change,

the courage

to change the person I can, and

the wisdom

to know that I am that person.



Responsible Kids While Keeping a Life of Your Own,” is at

the editor. It will be published later this year.

The most common response obtained from people who have read

the 150-page draft say, “Why didn’t I know about the

approaches in this book sooner?”

The book and the numerous stories and examples are

ESPECIALLY FOR PARENTS. For those interested in viewing the

book and the Table of Contents, link to


If you are interested in placing an order for a discount,

mailto:Marv@MarvinMarshall.com and in the SUBJECT line,

insert “Parenting Book.” You will be notified when the book

is available and how you can receive the discount.


This issue of the newsletter launches an additional section

entitled, “Parenting.”

Consider sharing the newsletter with some friends who are

parents by forwarding this issue to them with an

invitational note.


I have had so many requests for the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT

STRESS POWERPOINT that I have added it to my website. Feel

free to use/share it as you desire.

To download the PowerPoint, link to the “Media Room” at


Click on the second item. This link will take you directly

to the PowerPoint at



This month is a good time for schools in the USA to receive

DWS books free for all certificated staff members–along

with a free staff development package. The site for the

public charity application is at



Following a presentation, the following were
the top three

“keepers” from participants:

(1) When you aim at getting obedience with today’s young

people, you often get resistance and sometimes even


(2) Relying on rules places you in the position of a cop.

(3) Coercion is the least effective approach for influencing

another person to change.


As you engage in conversations, attempt to infer people’s

assumptions behind their thoughts.

Say something like, “I found what you said interesting, and

I found myself thinking about the assumptions behind it.”

This often transforms the dialogue and results in a much

more interesting as well as an enlightening and influencing



BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER is the golden rule of

The opposite and easiest way to destroy a relationship is

to register disgust.


The August 3, 2009 issue of Time Magazine had an interesting

article about cursive handwriting.

The publication of “A Nation at Risk,” about the state of

education in the USA, initiated an era of standardized

assessment. The 2004 passage of “No Child Left Behind”

intensified measuring student learning solely on test

scores. It is fairly well-recognized that the practical

effect of this legislation has been an increased

concentration on teaching to what tests focus on. In

practical terms, if something is not on the standardized

test it is viewed as a luxury. As one expert put it, “It is

getting harder and harder to balance what’s on the test with

what children need to know.”

To continue, “Reading is on there, but handwriting isn’t so

it’s not as important. In other words, schools don’t care

how a child holds her pencil as long as she can read.”

As an elementary principal, I modeled, gave instruction, and

even distributed an illustration on the “proper” way to

hold a pencil for optimum penmanship. Today, little time is

spent on teaching cursive and, as the article states, the

skill of reading cursive may become a thing of the past.

With twitter and the use of instant messaging, one can just

imagine not only what handwriting may be in the future but

what will happen to spelling.

Maybe change is good; maybe it’s not. But as economists

state, there is an opportunity cost for everything.

Apparently we are giving up beauty for speed, artistry for


I wonder if we realize the learning (or lack of it) that we

are actually promoting.

6. Parenting

I received the following inquiry:

I wonder if you could help me out with a problem with my 4

and 5 year olds in a play-based preschool setting. Some of

the children swear a lot. We have discussed that this might

be okay at home but at kinder it isn’t okay with everyone

and so we find other words. So some do it furtively and

think that it is funny. I have spoken to parents who all say

they don’t want their child to speak in that way. But

children don’t want me to check with their parents, and they

admit that it’s not okay at home but they are spreading

their wings a bit. Any comments?


My response:

Take the initiative (Level D). You teach the teacher. Show

the teacher how to tell the youngsters that there are HIGH

levels (good) words and LOW level (bad) words. (Examples of

HIGH level words: “Thank you.” “It’s your turn.” “We don’t

hit others.” Examples of LOW level words: “Shut up!” and

other words you are referring to.

When youngsters hear an unacceptable word, teach them to

tell the teacher. The teacher then holds a very short

meeting with all the children and shares the word informing

them that it is a LOW level word. The teacher then asks

(elicits) from the group what they could say the next time

they hear the word. (Kids will come up with “Low level,”

“bad word,” “poor choice,” etc.)

Using this approach, the teacher will have made a game out


THEM TO DO–rather than using unacceptable language (for

whatever the motivation is to do so).


7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)

The following is from the mailring:

Can anyone tell me how the Responsive Classroom model

dovetails with Marv’s teachings? I think there are lots of

connections and would like to explore them more.

Kerry’s response:

The Responsive Classroom website explains that at the heart

of the Responsive Classroom approach are some classroom

practices. Those that are either in common with DWS or

disagree follow:

MORNING MEETING – gathering as a whole class each morning to

greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead

Morning meetings are suggested as a useful strategy in DWS

as well.

RULE CREATION – helping students create classroom rules to

ensure an environment that allows all class members to meet

their learning goals

Two points here:

1) DWS suggests that rules are counterproductive in

relationships (between teachers and students) because they

often encourage a perception of coercion. Marv recommends

that rules be replaced with procedures and expectations, or

with the term “Responsibilities.” For detailed discussion of

this topic, see the following link:


2) One of the key points in DWS is that classroom management

is the responsibility of the TEACHER. (Discipline, on the

other hand, is the responsibility of the students.) As such,

teachers hold the responsibility for creating classroom

procedures. Students become involved in the learning part of

the equation. They learn the procedures that have been

established and taught by the teacher. They don’t create the

procedures; they follow them. By following the procedures of

the classroom, students automatically act on Level C, the

level of acceptable classroom behavior. By choosing to

follow the procedures–even when the teacher isn’t

present–they can operate on higher Level D, the level of

internal motivation and self-discipline.

POSITIVE TEACHER LANGUAGE – using words and tone as a tool

to promote children’s active learning, sense of community,

and self-discipline

This fits in well with DWS.

LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES – responding to misbehavior in a way

that allows children to fix and learn from their mistakes

while preserving their dignity

Although responding to misbehavior in a way that allows

children to fix and learn from their mistakes while

preserving their dignity fits with the DWS philosophy, the

idea that logical consequences are effective in achieving

this goal does not. DWS offers the understanding that

logical consequences are simply another form of punishment.

ACADEMIC CHOICE- increasing student learning by allowing

students teacher-structured choices in their work

“Choice” is one of the three guiding principles behind DWS,

so this statement would tie in well with DWS. All people

feel more motivation when they they have choices. In

addition, they are also more likely to feel cooperative when

they sense they have choices available to them.

DWS goes one step further though. Using the Hierarchy,

teachers can give students the understanding that learning

and quality-of-learning also involve choice. A teacher

cannot decide how well a student learns; the choice is up to

the student. If a student is interested in moving themselves

forward at the greatest speed or with the best results, that

student can consciously CHOOSE to take on the traits of a

good or great student. It’s up to that student. The teacher

will support the efforts of the student, but the student

must make the choice with regard to academic behavior. In my

experience, an amazing thing happens when you make students

aware of these choices in a non-coercive way. The students

WANT to aim for the highest level. I find this one of the

most exciting aspects of using the Hierarchy. I have the

perfect tool for motivating my students–both my eager

little grade ones and my older discouraged teenage students.

CLASSROOM ORGANIZATION – setting up the physical room in

ways that encourage students’ independence, cooperation, and


This would connect well to the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS



It’s the teacher’s responsibility to manage and organize the

structure of the classroom. Responsive Classroom has

specific ideas that might be useful to a DWS teacher.

WORKING WITH FAMILIES – creating avenues for hearing

parents’ insights and helping them understand the school’s

teaching approaches

This proactive goal/strategy would also tie in very well

with the DWS philosophy.

COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING – using conferencing, role

playing, and other strategies to resolve problems with


This strategy also ties in nicely.


More of Kerry’s responses are at her blog:


You can join the Discipline Without Stress mailing at


7. Testimonials/Research

I recently received the following e-mail from a new

subscriber to the newsletter:

It breaks my heart. I took a class this summer and another

teacher told us about your system. My teaching partner

bought your book and we have been discussing it at length.

We feel like our lives have changed. As soon as I think I

can afford it, I will get your book as well. I taught Kinder

for seven years and I still have feelings of guilt over my

punitive discipline methods (which outweighed the positive

methods) and even my anger at the children. Now that I have

seen how your system works, I am afraid that I have scarred

some children for life. Fortunately, I am going to teach 3rd

grade and will have many of my former Kinder students. I

feel that maybe I can make up for my errors. I can’t wait to

read the book in full and start this school yearÊon a

sustaining positive note.

God Bless You!